I’m starting off with what may be a
slight ‘unpopular opinion alert’ but after reading A Heart So Dark and Lonely last year, I was not 100% sure whether I wanted to continue with the Cursebreakers series. The first book had so much hype surrounding it and was hailed as one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings of all time. As much as I enjoyed reading ACSDAL, I clearly wasn’t as blown away by it as everyone else. Don’t get me wrong it was a highly enjoyable read but perhaps I just love the original tales too much.
That being said, when I saw the sequel advertised on Amazon as part of their 2 for £7 deal (a steal!) I could not resist buying it to see what happened to Rhen and Harper!
The narrative and focus of the tale moving away from Rharper/Harpen onto Grey and a completely new character called Lia Mara didn’t entirely appeal to me at first (another thing which stopped me from putting it on auto pre-order), but when the prompts for the OWLs Magical Readathon 2020 were revealed and Ancient Runes was to read something with a heart in the title or on the cover then this was my immediate pick. 💚
Book: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: 7th January 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Whilst there are no major plot spoilers ahead for AHSFAB, there will need to be a little bit of discussion as to my thoughts on where this story is going so bear that in mind if you haven’t already read this book or series (which tbh I think you should!!).
The Unanswered Story Strands
From the off it felt so good to be back in the world of Emberfall and pick up essentially where the story left off. The curveball twist of an ending from book 1 needed to be played out as many strands had been left unanswered: Lilith, the mystery heir, Syl Shallow’s forces descending on Emberfall, the ‘Disi/D.C.’ sham…
I really like Brigid’s writing style and feel that she has hit the balance between detail, pace and storytelling so that I could allow myself to get lost in the vortex of the story without having to overthink or reread paragraphs just to keep up with what was going on.
New Character Alert
Usually, I’m not a fan of main character introductions part way through a series; I like to see a full, well-developed character arc, however I was pleasantly surprised by Lia Mara. She is smart, clever and definitely no wallflower. She added a really down-to-earth yet vibrant dynamic which counterbalanced Grey’s personality really well. Although the ‘main plot’ thread of the story seemed to move a little slowly to make room for this, I did not mind in the slightest as it enabled us to fully understand these main characters’ backgrounds and motivations. As Lia Mara’s story unfolded alongside Grey’s, my initial worries went out the window and I became totally invested in their relationship; in fact, I think I even prefer them to Rhen and Harper! [Side-note: I know the ages don’t match up at all, but I can’t help but visualise Grey as Michael Fassbender…anyone else?!]
Is It Really That Complicated?
As I touched on above, the whole point of this novel seems to revolve around Rhen trying to discover the identity of the mysterious other heir to Emberfall and Grey trying to hide the fact that it’s him. In my head, surely their relationship wasn’t that bad that they couldn’t have chatted about this and worked it out between them…? They could have been co-rulers or Rhen could politically shape the kingdom and Grey could focus on the military side of things…? My brain just doesn’t see why this had to be the massive problem that it turned out to be; it’s like when you’re watching a TV programme and you think to yourself ‘there’s no way that would happen like that” – anyway that’s how it did happen yet I was hooked with my reading and carried on with the plot regardless.
If anyone is interested, my prediction theory for Cursebreakers #3 is: (aside from any shockingly twisty main character deaths) Rhen and Harper rule Emberfall, Grey and Lia Mara rule over Syl Shallow; together they unite their countries in some sort of alliance then everyone has world peace and lives happily ever after…!
We Need To Talk About Scravers
Can we just take a minute to talk about the incredible creature creation ‘scravers’?! For me these are the coolest things to come out of this book. I really enjoyed Isaak’s character and loved his little curiosities and mysteriousness. It feels like there is a whole other backstory here that we need to explore and I really really hope that this comes out in Cursebreakers #3 otherwise I’m going to need a novella or a side-series or something!
All in all, I am so glad that I took a punt and carried on with this series. Despite the epilogue, which is a little ‘trope-y’ for my liking although I see why it had to happen, I thoroughly enjoy Brigid’s writing style, characters and the world she’s created. They really got me invested into the series again. Cursebreakers #3 – A Vow So Bold and Deadly is definitely going to be on auto-preorder because I need to find out if my theory about how this resolves itself is correct – and I need to find out what happens to Isaak!
My finishing thought is a little insight into how this series fits into my brain…
It’s like the two separated sides of a Victoria Sponge – A Curse So Dark and Lonely was half the sponge and cream; A Heart So Fierce and Broken was the other half of sponge and the jam. Each yummy on their own but… hopefully A Vow So Bold and Deadly is going to put the whole damn scrumptious cake together! Bring it on!
If you have read AHSFAB or wanted to chat about any part of the series or characters, as always drop me a comment below! 🙂